Vicar's Letter September 2017


Dear Friends,


I shall start off as I mean to go on - with giving thanks. Firstly, I must give thanks to all of you who contributed in any way to the service of Institution and Licensing of Steve Harrison as Team Rector at the beginning of August – by being there, by preparing food, by taking part in the service, by singing in the Choir, by reading or bringing symbols, by helping with the car-parking or (rather earlier) with the big clean-up/junk-sort that we needed before we could possibly host such an occasion. Above all, thank you for your prayers for Steve and myself, for the working of the (still very) new Stroudwater Team, and for the advancement of the kingdom of God in this place.


Thank you to all of you; but of course I must go on from there to give thanks to God. It is just too easy to get self-absorbed in our lives, to think there is nothing outside our particular activities that needs to concern us. Even as we are involved in “religious” activity, it is too easy to forget God. So please give thanks with me for Steve as he comes to us from a long way away to work alongside all of us; for the diocese which enables and encourages us to work with each other, not only locally, but with the church world-wide; and for the call that God gives to each of us to be part of His Kingdom. Give thanks to one another; give thanks to God.


As I give thanks to all of you, I am looking forward to more. Where there are signs of willingness to cooperate and work together across the different parishes, I rejoice and give thanks, and then look to see how that mutual cooperation may be consolidated and developed. As I give thanks to God, I ask him what else He has in mind to give! That may sound plain greedy, but I am quite clear that it is what God wants us to do. Being a Christian is first of all about receiving God's gifts. Only when we realise how much we have received will we understand how much we can do for God and be bold in asking for more – both of His gifts and for opportunities in His service.


The more we receive, the more we give thanks. So let's look, not at what we are going to do this month, but at what we will receive, what we should give thanks for. Give thanks for our coming trip to Sidmouth, however ordinary that may seem; give thanks for the wonderful country in which we live, with its seaside, its countryside, its town life. Give thanks for the “Ride-and-Stride” that Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust are organising the following weekend, for the chance to appreciate one another's buildings in the team and in the diocese; give thanks for those who will be working on our building and churchyard that day; (and come to tea and evensong at the Vicarage on that Sunday!) Give thanks the following weekend for the visit to St. Cyr's by Bishop Robert, a reminder that we are part of a much bigger Church and that we are prayed for and ministered to as well as being asked to pray for and minister to our parish. Give thanks Sunday by Sunday as we move rapidly to our Harvest Festival Services at the end of the month. Look forward with thanksgiving to a visit from representatives of the Children's Society at the beginning of October.


At one level, it sounds utterly frantic. It may feel like that too! But so much depends on how we approach our lives, our Church lives. Let's look forward to all this activity in thankfulness: thankfulness to God who gives us so much, thankfulness that is prepared to look for more from the Great Giver of all things.  Give thanks, as I've said, Sunday by Sunday for all the extra things that are going on, but also join in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that must always go on. Give thanks for our Stroudwater team, for all the parishes that make it up and for the possibilities of God's work among us that it opens up.


One of the words that is used for the celebration of Holy Communion is “Eucharist”. The word means (in Greek) thanksgiving. Let that thanksgiving be at the very basis of our lives, as we give thanks to God for all that is past and for all that the future will bring.

Charles Minchin, Team Vicar